Sunday, June 26, 2005

Sea Legs by Alex Shearer

This is one of the funniest books I've read, because of the sarcastic, wise-cracking voice of Eric, the older (by 5 minutes) of a pair of British twins, telling the story. Eric and Clive stowaway on the cruise liner their father works on because they're tired of being left at their grandparents' while their father is at sea, being forced, as Eric says, to stare at their grandfather's "great big corduroy bottom" while he works in the garden. Many close calls where they are almost discovered ensue, especially after they run into Swanker (not his real name), a boy from their school, and convince his mother that their father is the captain, but doesn't like to acknowledge them while on board the ship to discourage kidnapping attempts. They are suspicious of a certain crew member they nickname Lumpy, and when the boat is taken over by pirates, they discover he is in cahoots with them. The boys, of course, become heroes. Review by Stacy Church

Confessions of a Closet Catholic by Sarah Littman

This is my favorite kind of book - both funny and sad. 11 year old Justine's best friend at her new school is Catholic, and when she gives up chocolate for Lent, Justine decides to give up being Jewish. She says, "…being Jewish is all about suffering….People hate us, try to kill us, and don't want us to join their country club, while you guys get Christmas trees and Easter eggs." Her family (especially her mother who is a neat freak) is disapproving of Justine and never takes her seriously, so of course she hides her new-found Catholicism from them, pretending to confess to her teddy bear "Father Ted" and taking communion with matzo and grape juice in the closet of her bedroom. She is discovered when the crumbs and spilled juice bring an infestation of mice. Only her bubbe (grandmother) is supportive of her efforts to find her religious identity. Review by Stacy Church

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Beekman's Big Deal by Michael de Guzman

By the time Beekman O'Day is in the seventh grade, he has been to 9 different schools in New York City. His father doesn't have a regular job - he makes deals - and when a deal falls through, they have to move because he can't pay the rent, and Beekman has to change schools because he can't pay the tuition. His father promises that things are going to change when they move into a house on Nutting Court, and he enrolls at Chance Academy, which some kids call "Last Chance Academy." This is a funny book full of quirky characters, including, of course, the school bully, who chooses Beekman to pick on. Review by Stacy Church

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Guys Write for Guys Read edited by Jon Scieszka

This is a great collection of short stories, mini-memoirs, poems, comics and illustrations. The list of contributors contains well-known authors, illustrators, journalists, etc., all of whom are male, sharing their thoughts and reminiscences of what it is to be a boy. The tales are lots of fun to read (many are laugh out loud funny). This is a great book for a trip or to take to the beach. Because each piece is just a few pages, you can pick up the book, read a few stories and then put it down and come back to it later. Several of the illustrators include drawings from when they were kids as well as recent ones, often of the same subject matter. It's a great book for girls too -- it may not help you to see eye to eye with that annoying older brother of yours, but it gives a small glimpse into what goes on inside his head. Review by Jane Malmberg.